How U.S. Airlines Have Changed Their Top Ten Markets Since 2019

Over the past four years, the four major U.S. airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest, have all experienced changes in the market across American airports. Recent data concludes how the airlines have adapted to a post-pandemic world.

graph shows U.S. Airlines trends
Graph depicting changes in flights, seats, and ASMs © Visual Approach Analytics

The Big Four

The graph above shows that Delta Air Lines has experienced a steep seat loss in their key airports, such as ATL, MSP, and DTW. However, Boston is up by 28%.

American Airlines is boosting its fortress hubs DFW, up 6%, and CLT, up 7%. This is potentially at the cost of LAX, ORD, and PHL, which have experienced more staggering declines. However, the 40% increase in JFK stands out as an important and strategic growth area for the airline.

United is suffering along the West Coast due to the transpacific lag; however, Denver and Newark are growing at expediential rates, increasing by 18% and 11%.

Despite being smaller than the previous three, Southwest is rising, with major increases in 9 out of 10 markets. Houston remains only on a 1% decline. Like United, Denver is emerging as a leader in growth, likely benefitting from its strong geographic presence within the domestic network. Other factors, such as the aircraft size and distance flown, are also causing Southwest to have a distinct effect on the market and explain their differing chart.

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Southwest is rising, with major increases in 9 out of 10 markets. © F. Muhammad on Pixabay

Up And To The Right – How U.S. Airlines Are Changing The Market

When comparing the data of the changes in flights, seats, and ASMs since 2019 for the big four, it demonstrates a clear trend: up and to the right.

The number of flights on average is down; however, airlines are introducing larger aircraft, and therefore, seats are up. Delta, for example, has increased its average seat gauge within Atlanta from 145 seats up to 165 seats per departure during Q3 2023. This also means that the average seat miles have also improved for airlines as there is an increase in larger aircraft being deployed on longer routes.

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United is suffering along the West Coast due to the transpacific lag. © Stefan4472 on Pixabay

Southwest’s chart stands out again, not being as affected by the longer flights despite the airline continuing to deliver its largest model, the 175-seat 737-8.

The trend of being up and to the right remains consistent amongst most airline markets since pre-pandemic.

What are your thoughts on the Big Four’s changing markets? Let us know in the comments. 

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Millie Brown
Millie Brown
Millie is a recent English Literature graduate with a passion for reading, writing and travel. She is currently working as a Journalist Intern at Travel Radar to further her writing skills and gain some hands-on, journalist experience. In the future, she plans on going backpacking around the world with her partner whilst also working on becoming a freelance writer and journalist.
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